Slaughterhouse rolled through the Royal Oak Music Theatre Monday night, playing its third area show in a little more than a year and its second at the Royal Oak in the same period of time. Since the four member collective’s last show at the venue it has only released a few new songs, which helps explain the light attendance at the concert, and the group’s new album is still a few months away. So a fair question to ask would have been, why even have the concert at all?
The 70-minute concert provided few answers. Slaughterhouse — Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz and Detroit’s own Royce da 5’9″ — has been a group since 2008, but it still hasn’t developed a decent stage show. The group members take long breaks between every song, bantering with the crowd, taking pulls from bottles of liquor, and continually squashing any sense of momentum they build during their songs. The four members seem to be winging it at all times, occupying their own space or going back to chat with any of the two dozen or so people hanging out at the back of the stage. A Slaughterhouse show is about as loose a show as you’ll find anywhere, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Hometown boy Royce got the lion’s share of the crowd’s love on Monday, and he owned the evening’s best moment, when he brought his son on stage and put his arm around him and embraced him. He also performed three songs from last year’s Bad Meets Evil record, though it was no surprise when Eminem did not take the stage to share microphone duties. (Em appeared at last year’s Slaughterhouse show at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.)
The setlist touched on songs from the group’s 2009 debut album and was rounded out by three — yes, three — takes of the group’s new Korn-sampling single “Hammer Dance,” two with full vocals and one with just, well, dancing. When Jay-Z and Kanye West made a game out of playing “Ni**as in Paris” as many times as they could at their Watch the Throne concerts last year, it was a thrilling, over-the-top celebration of excess. But when Slaughterhouse pulled a similar stunt, Monday, it simply smacked of not knowing how to better fill their time.